Ariana Grande attends Billboard's 13th Annual Women In Music Event at Pier 36 on December 6, 2018 in New York City.

The LGBTQ+ community has been integral to the performing arts (and the tech behind said arts) for as long as there has been performing arts, even though many members of the entertainment industry were at times reluctant to admit it. Back in the days of the Hays Code, from the 1930s to the 1960s, movies depicting same-sex love interests were censored by studios. Even today, movies featuring gay sex or LGBTQ+ characters are typically rated more strictly than movies with straight characters.

The Stigma Around LGBTQ+ Content

Given the stigma around showing LGBTQ+ content on the silver screen, it makes sense that celebrities who identify as being LGBTQ+ haven’t always been able to speak freely about their status. It wasn’t too long ago that the entertainment industry took every conceivable measure to keep the sexual orientation of its foremost stars under wraps. Look no further than Old Hollywood actor Rock Hudson, whose homosexuality remained a tightly guarded secret during the height of his fame.

Thankfully, many of today’s LGBTQ+ celebrities aren’t overly pressured into keeping their status a secret. Likewise, both the entertainment industry and society have made strides since the heyday of Rock Hudson, at least in terms of how both those entities approach and accept sexual identity. This increased visibility of LGBTQ+ celebrities matters. Celebrities speaking openly about their identity and experiences can help destigmatize LGBTQ+ identities and boost the self-esteem of LGBTQ+ people by allowing them to see that there are successful people out there who are like them.

We’ve curated a list of 50 major celebrities in the LGBTQ+ community who have made significant contributions to the community itself and/or the entertainment industry. Although there is still quite a way for civilization to go when it comes to the inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals, it’s increasingly apparent that a celebrity’s sexual orientation need not be the career detriment it may have been in the past. In fact, now, more than ever, celebrities are speaking up for LGBTQ+ communities and becoming celebrated advocates for them. Just look at Billy Eichner vying for more overtly gay characters in TV and film. Or Lil Nas X, who has become an LGBTQ+ icon after spending years closeted with no plans to publicly come out.

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